Health Library

Cervical Cancer
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There are no obvious signs or symptoms of cervical cancer in its beginning stages. The precancerous changes happening in the cervix usually do not cause pain or other symptoms. Most cervical cancers are detected through a routine pelvic exam and Pap test. Because of this, it is important to have regular Pap tests.

When the abnormal cells become cancerous, accumulate to a sufficient size, and begin to invade nearby tissues, signs and symptoms may appear. They include:

  • Abnormal bleeding—This is the most common symptom. It may include:
    • Bleeding between your regular menstrual periods
    • Menstrual bleeding that is heavier or lasts longer than usual
    • Bleeding after sexual intercourse
    • Bleeding after douching
    • Bleeding after a pelvic exam
  • Bleeding after menopause
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Pain during sexual intercourse or in the lower pelvic region
  • Back pain

These symptoms can be caused by other, less serious conditions. Experiencing these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have cervical cancer. It is important, however, to see your doctor if you are having any of these symptoms. Remember that cervical cancer does not produce symptoms in its earliest and most curable stages. Regular examination by a doctor and regular Pap tests remain the best way to diagnose this disease in its earliest stages.

Revision Information

  • American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/home/index.asp.

  • National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov. Accessed January 3, 2014.

  • National Women’s Health Information Center website. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov.